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Tuskegee-led alliance to mentor minority STEM faculty funded by $2.6M NSF grant

October 10, 2018

Contact: Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
  

Dr. Shaik Jeelani and Dr. Mohammed Qazi
Jeelani and Qazi

An alliance led by Tuskegee University is one of six new grants awarded by the National Science Foundation’s newest Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program.

Through this five-year, $2.6 million grant, a multi-university alliance will implement and study a model to provide junior minority faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with experiences to promote their academic growth during their critical early years of employment as they build their tenure and promotion applications.

The new AGEP alliance will include three HBCU implementation sites: Tuskegee University, Jackson State University (Mississippi) and Tennessee State University (Nashville). Faculty members will be recruited and immersed in project interventions, including research assignments at one of three National Laboratories; Lawrence Berkeley in California, Brookhaven  in New York and Oak Ridge in Tennessee, which are also part of the alliance. In addition, the alliance will also include a knowledge-generating partner, Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan), which will study the proposed AGEP model for its effectiveness.

“Each junior faculty member recruited for the AGEP Program will take part in a three-year residency program,” explained Dr. Shaik Jeelani, the grant’s principal investigator,  as well the university’s vice president for research and dean of its Graduate School. “The program will provide these maturing faculty members with year-round academic and social support to achieve a high-level of productivity in scholarly areas that are highly valued for tenure and promotion. This will include supporting their efforts to write competitive proposals to funding agencies, as well as how to prepare and submit scholarly manuscripts.”

The program will include annual retreats where participating faculty will come together as one to share their scholarly progress and ways to resolve challenges in a supportive setting.

“The retreats will allow participants to gain insights on how to judiciously navigate the tenure-track years, make sound judgments about effort-distribution in the three main roles of teaching, research and service, and maintain good work-life balance,” noted Dr. Mohammed A. Qazi, a professor of mathematics and assistant dean for development and outreach in the College of Arts and Sciences, who serves as the alliance’s executive director and co-principal investigator.

“Faculty at HBCUs are typically overburdened with extreme teaching and advising responsibilities, making it difficult for them to find the time and resources for the other activities that are highly valued in tenure and promotion decisions,” Qazi said. “Our AGEP retreats and other activities will help faculty better address these challenges and form within and across the three HBCUs a community to promote overall academic growth and reduce isolation.”

One of the highlights of the AGEP model is that it will have the capability to grow and attract other HBCUs as participants.

“This AGEP alliance is interested in broad impact of its work –– as the project advances in its timeline, the team will reach-out to other HBCUs across the country to invite their participation and to benefit their junior STEM faculty,” Jeelani emphasized.

The multi-university AGEP team also includes Dr. Martha Escobar, associate professor of psychology at Oakland University; Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski, professor and presidential distinguished fellow at Jackson State University; and Dr. Lesia Crumpton Young, vice president for research at Tennessee State University. The TMT Group, led by its CEO, Dr. Dorothy Huston, will conduct the evaluation of the project.

For more information about NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate program, visit www.nsf.agep.

© 2018, Tuskegee University